Literary Theory & Criticism

Course Information


Semester: Spring 2010-2011

Course Number: 312/51           

Course Title: Literary Theory & Criticism

Time: MW 9:30-10:45

Place: Keifan 208

Final Exam: 7 June, 3:30-5:30


Teacher: Hanan Muzaffar

Office Hours: MW 12:30-1:30


Contact Information:


    Mobile: 9989-3734


Course Description:

This course introduces students to the major schools of theory and their particular methodologies and concepts, supported by a background introduction into classic texts that influenced these schools such as Plato, Aristotle and Kant. The course aims at guiding the students into a proper reading of theoretical articles and enabling them to analyze literature in light of these theories.


Textbooks: (Few copies available in Student Bookshop, Shuwaikh. Packet available in copy center, Keifan)

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 1995. 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2002.

Newton, K. M. Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader. 1988. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Palgrave, 1997.


Course Requirements/Grades:

10% In-Class Participation

You are expected to attend regularly and be an active member in class, participating every day to enrich our classroom discussions. You will not be judged for your opinions but will be expected to come to class everyday prepared with your reactions, questions and comments on the assigned readings.

10% Presentation

The class will be divided into 6 groups, each in charge of presenting a theory in around 10 minutes. Read the pages explaining the theory in both Newton and Barry, then prepare a one page handout in the form of bullet points summarizing the main points in these pages that help you explain the theory. Allow around 5 minutes after your presentation for discussion or interaction. Email me your outline as an attachment.

Click here for sample presentation online on Formalism and New Criticism

20% Responses

For each theoretical school, choose a critic associated with that school of theory to respond to in an essay of two pages (600-800 words) each. These are responses to one of the critical articles associated with each theory (from Plato to Bhabha), not the introductory information on the theory itself. Remember to submit your response before you arrive to class on the day we begin each theory. For each response, choose from 1 to 3 quotations from the text you are assigned for the day to include in your paper. (The quotations should not exceed 1/3 of the paper itself. Roughly speaking, in a 600 page paper, the quotations shouldn't exceed 200 words and it is more reasonable for them to be in the range of 150 words) Select those quotations which you think are vital to the meaning of the article. Follow each quotation with an explanation of what you think it means and how it supports the overall argument of the article. Feel free to comment, argue, and relate what you read to other material or ideas in order to enhance your response. Follow paper writing guidelines in website. Send as email attachment. No response is allowed on critics whose theory you present. (I will choose the best 5 grades to include when the final grade is calculated)

10% Final Paper (due 1 June)

6 pages (around 1800-2400 words) application of critic/theory on a work of literature approved by me. Refer to the Writer's Guide found in your course's main webpage for further instructions on writing these papers. At least 2 secondary sources required. Send as email attachment.

20% Midterm Exam (13 April)

The exam will be made of two parts.

Part one: Choose 5 out of 8 questions to answer in 1-3 sentences each.

part two: Choose one out of 3 questions to answer in the form of an essay of 2 pages, double-spaced.

30% Final Exam (7 June, 3:30-5:30)

This follows the same pattern of the midterm exam, with 2 essays instead of one.


Forum Participation:

I keep a forum ( for out of class discussions and questions. You will be sent a username and password as soon as you send me your contact information. Once you are registered in the forum, you can either start your own topic, related to class content, or follow other topics started by your colleagues. This is meant to allow you an online space through which you can share ideas and discuss issues relevant to our class. Participation in the forum is optional, but you are to keep your participation only to issues related to class, and in proper academic English.


Writing Skills:

Avoid Plagiarism: You plagiarize when you present any information in your paper that is not yours without properly referencing it. Whether that information is quoted directly, paraphrased, or summarized, you have to follow it with parenthetical references immediately, not just list the source at the end of the paper. Your first attempt at plagiarizing will earn you a zero for that assignment. If you plagiarize again, you will earn an F for the course.

All written material (responses and research paper) should be typed using font size 12 Arial, double-spaced, on A4 size papers with 1" margins on all sides.

Your name, teacher's name, course title and number, and date should appear on the left-hand side of the paper. The title should be centered under that, using the same size font.

Save the file as a word document and send to my email ( by the due date.

Click here to download a paper template with the correct format. Delete the Works Cited page if not needed.



The teacher reserves the right to make changes in the division of grades and syllabus. You will be notified of such changes in due time. 

And finally, I hope we all have fun and enjoy what we’re reading. My aim is for you to leave class wanting to read more, and being able to do so with more of a critical eye. But most of all enjoy reading.